In The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (first ed.1904/5, second ed. 1920)
Max Weber pointed out that the Puritan idea and conduct of the `Calling' in the 16th and 17th centuries were not given as qualities but the product of lifelong education. At the same time, he suggested, `The Puritan wanted to work in a calling; we are forced to do so.' This means that the technical and economic conditions of machine products determine the lives of all individuals. Keeping such a critical consciousness of this issue , Weber wrote texts in the field of industrial sociology, and argued about political and economic policies.
In previous studies, different aspects of Weber's evaluation of contemporary industrial work have been discussed. On the one hand, there is his pessimism towards a work ethic rooted in religion which has already faded with time. In his political and economic writings this was represented by the most famous “iron cage ” metaphor, where the individual is forced to live, On the other hand, his expectations for the role of workers motivated by “idealism ” who should mainly function politically is also studied.
The present paper focuses on Weber's consciousness of the latter. The author deals with
Weber's study of labor in a textile factory, “ On the Psychophysics of Industrial Work (1908/9) ” and so forth. Little attention in previous studies of Weber's educational thought has been devoted to these texts which seem to be mainly in the field of occupational psychology. On the methodology of value-relevance (“Wertbeziehung ”) however there are his observations and notions concerning textile laborers' practice (“Übung ” ),Therefore this paper aims to consider the question: could Weber trace any idealistic type of human being, especially—as Wolfgang Mommsen pointed out (1974) —in the autonomization of each personality? The laborer was under the strict human conditions of “ mechanization ” — quality-automatization, -standardization and -fragmentization, — in the industrial factory. So the task of laborer education was difficult. If it were to a certain extent possible, how could it be accomplished especially from the viewpoint of learning?
The results are as follows:
1) On the ground of discrimination between desire — from primary to aesthetic — and functional utility in the theory on market, Weber asked what kinds of attention laborers paid toward the value-realms of extra-labor.
2) In factorial labor having regard to not only physical but also intellectual activities, Weber made much of calculative deliberation (what Weber calls “ Erwä gung ” ), which was indispensable for ascetic autonomous Protestant conduct.
3) Introducing the new concept of a kind of division of labor (“Leistungsspezifizierung ”) with which it is possible for even factorial laborers to touch end-products, Weber searched for the possibility of goods-oriented activities of laborers akin to craftsmanship in the medieval age.
Weber's concepts of training can be characterized by educational regard to “ pragmatic ” efforts for the autonomous self. Certainly his view of learning was not optimistic. At this point it was like Kerschensteiner's theory of Arbeiterziehung. However, Weber's concepts were presented from inside actual and severe situations. Even if laborers existed inside the iron cage-like factory, according to Weber, it was not impossible for them to attain “ idealistic ” thought.
Key words: practice / division of labor / autonomization / mechanization / pragmatic / Erwä gung